BAMAKO Feb 16 Canada's Avnel Gold will
suspend production at its loss-making Kalana underground mine in
Mali for 18 months from June to expand its operations and build
a new processing plant, the West African nation's mines ministry
Production will restart in January 2019 at a larger,
open-pit mine with estimated gold reserves of 1.96 million
The Malian state holds a 20 percent stake in the Somika
venture, which has operated the Kalana mine since 2003, with the
remainder held by Avnel.
The mine has not been profitable for years due to a
depletion of its initial reserves and a decline in gold prices,
but Avnel kept it open in order to avoiding laying off workers,
the company has previously said.
"The company has informed us that it will stop production in
June and start construction of a new factory in July which will
last a year and a half ... re-starting production in January
2019," said Yaya Djire, head of the ministry's mines division.
The new mine will produce 148,000 ounces of gold a year for
the first five years of its 18-year lifespan and will cost 73
billion CFA francs ($117 million), Djire said.
($1 = 622.3400 CFA francs)
(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo,; Writing by Nellie Peyton,
editing by David Evans)